Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 352 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Release date: March 5, 2013
Series: Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter #3
Source: Review copy from Kensington
Reviewed by: Jenn
Taking out hellish creatures—not a problem. Armed with blessed silver hollow-points and the ability to manipulate magick, he’s ready for anything—except betrayal he never saw coming…
Deacon Chalk knows the biggest danger in fighting monsters is becoming one. Just another day at the office for your friendly neighborhood occult bounty hunter. If keeping three helpless were-dog children safe means battling a malevolent trio of witches by any means necessary, so be it. If that means partnering with a ruthless government agent to stay one step ahead of the allies and friends he must now suspect, he’s not going to cry about it. The only way Deacon can save humans and shape-shifters alike is to embrace a power beyond his imagining, putting his team at stake—and his soul on the line…
Best Deacon Chalk story yet. Hands down. It may not have a tyrannosaurus but it rocks out like some totally awesome but obscure heavy metal star I would name if I knew anything about the genre. (I am in a silly mood as I write this post. Obvi.) The writing is solid, the plot is dynamic, and the pace is relentless. I couldn't put it down. Those little things that I didn't love in the previous books are gone and I was completely blown away by BLOOD AND MAGICK. It's got the plotting and excitement of an action movie and I was positively thrilled by it.
In his third full-length outing, Deacon is facing down a trio of witches who are incredibly powerful and utterly ruthless, which forces him to dig deep to save the day. It's the first time I really felt like Deacon could fail, which made BLOOD AND MAGICK so compelling. I had doubts about Deacon's ability to survive his encounter with these baddies and those doubts kept me glued to the (virtual) page. Witches may be pretty standard fare in urban fantasy and paranormal romance but James R. Tuck has done a marvellous job of creating tough, smart villains who pose a significant threat to the entire universe. Kudos, Mr. Tuck!
I also really liked the introduction of the O.C.I.D., a government organization specializing in the occult. At first, I was worried it would have a total Men in Black vibe but the agent we meet reminded me more of characters we might see in a Justin Gustainis novel: he had a more serious mien and skills. The addition of the O.C.I.D. really opens up the world Tuck has created and the possibilities going forward are very exciting, particularly in light of the last chapter. (You'll figure out what I mean when you get there, because I'm not going to spoil BLOOD AND MAGICK for you.)
There are also some lovely developments on a more personal level. We get some info about Father Mulcahy's past (though his history is still tantalizingly mysterious) and we also get to see where Deacon and Tiff's relationship is in the aftermath of the final battle in BLOOD AND SILVER, which I was very curious about. It's been six months since poor Tiff got put through the wringer yet again and I love the fact that she doesn't get too beaten down by life -- at least not for very long. Fans of Larson and Kat will also see them get some nice page time as the relationships between Deacon and these two characters face some incredible obstacles. We see just how inflexible Deacon can be when it comes to the occult, and what that line in the sand costs him, which makes for some serious emotional punch. Tuck also gives us some really poignant moments involving Deacon and his dead family and now I finally feel like I get why he keeps thinking about them. (You may recall I complained about the repetitiveness of this aspect of Tuck's debut, BLOOD AND BULLETS.) Now, the depth of his emotion really resonates with me.
BLOOD AND MAGICK is by far the best Deacon Chalk story so far and I can't wait to see what Tuck has up his sleeve next. He's always been a fantastic plotter but he's really levelled up with this book in terms of the tension, action, and scope. If you're on the fence about this series, make sure you hold out until this one. You'll be a loyal and true believer for sure after finishing BLOOD AND MAGICK!